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White House Condemns Attacks in Burkina Faso

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Burnt vehicles are seen in the area of the Splendid hotel following an attack by al-Qaida linked gunmen on Jan. 16, 2016, in Ouagadougou.

Burnt vehicles are seen in the area of the Splendid hotel following an attack by al-Qaida linked gunmen on Jan. 16, 2016, in Ouagadougou.

The White House issued a sharply-worded statement Sunday saying it "condemns in the strongest terms" attacks in the capital of Burkina Faso that killed at least 29 people and wounded scores more from 18 countries overnight Friday.

The statement also warned that "acts of terrorism will not stop efforts by brave Americans and others from around the world" who work to "strengthen democracy, improve health care and increase economic opportunities" in the West African nation and elsewhere in the developing world.

The statement, which references the death of American missionary Michael Riddering in the massacre, comes as Burkina Faso began observing three days of national mourning following the attack on a luxury hotel and a nearby cafe. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility.

Riddering and his wife operated an orphanage and a women's crisis center about 100 kilometers from the capital, Ouagadougou.

A view shows vehicles on fire outside Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in this still image taken from a video, Jan. 15, 2016, during a siege by Islamist gunmen.

A view shows vehicles on fire outside Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in this still image taken from a video, Jan. 15, 2016, during a siege by Islamist gunmen.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who took office last month, said that "for the first time in its history, our country has fallen victim to a series of barbaric terrorist attacks." He said his nation will nevertheless "emerge victorious."

Gunmen stormed Ouagadougou's Splendid Hotel and the Cappuccino Cafe Friday night. Burkinabe security forces and their French counterparts responded early Saturday, triggering an hours-long battle to retake the hotel and the cafe popular with foreigners and United Nations staff.

Burkina Faso's soldiers take position in the surroundings of the Splendid hotel following an attack by Al-Qaeda linked gunmen on Jan. 16, 2016 in Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso's soldiers take position in the surroundings of the Splendid hotel following an attack by Al-Qaeda linked gunmen on Jan. 16, 2016 in Ouagadougou.










Interior Minister Simon Compaore said more than 150 hostages were rescued in the security operation, but a number of them were wounded.

Authorities say the fighting lasted 12 hours. Four jihadists, including two women, were reported dead by the time the fighting was over.

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday condemned the "odious and cowardly attack" in the former French colony. A statement from Hollande's office said he "expressed his full support to President Kabore."

Video from the attack scene:

Burkina Faso has endured bouts of political turmoil since October 2014 when President Blaise Compaore was overthrown in a popular uprising. Last September, members of a presidential guard launched a coup that lasted only about a week. The transitional government returned to power until Burkina Faso's November election ushered in new leaders.

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